Thursday, February 07, 2008


I was prepared for differences when I moved to my new house. The yard is smaller. It has a steep slope for most of the backyard. The front yard belongs to the Homeowners Association. These were all issues that I recognized from the first. I may not have appreciated their full impact but they were not surprises.

What I failed to anticipate was that my entire yard is a rock pile. I do not mean that there are rocks embedded in the soil in my yard. There is no soil. I mean a rock pile. The first clue was the jackhammer the landscaper used when he installed my plantings.

Even recognizing the reality, it didn’t hit home until I decided to embellish the bones of my landscaping with some seasonal interest. In this case some narcissus. My slope was just begging for some splashes of spring color and I ordered an assortment of bulbs intended to provide a long season of color. In my enthusiasm, I must have ordered 100 bulbs, imagining that planting them would be easy.

In fact, it was a pain. First I had to pry out all the rocks where I wanted bulbs. (I don’t really mean all, just those in the first eight inches.) These rocks I stacked on the side of the bed for later disposal. When this was done, I had a hole for the bulbs but no soil to fill it. For this I used a compost mix from the nursery which I blended with the small amounts of clay holding the rocks together. Then I planted the bulbs. Needless to say it took a long time to get all 100 bulbs in the ground. I have to admit that part of the problem was that I did not have the wits to purchase some decent digging tools. I bought a shovel before I understood how useless it would be in my yard. I had a small garden trowel to pry up the rocks and I added a screwdriver to my tools early on but they were inadequate. Only this year did I purchase a pick which makes the task much easier.

The bulbs have done well, returning every year but last year I lost the will to add more, first because of the digging and second because I can’t remember where they are after the foliage dies. I feel inspired with my new pick to go back to the catalogues next fall to add some more.


Julie said...

Do you have any sedum in your rock slope? I am envisioning Sedum Rubratinctum (sp?) turns red in the sun, and I could see it flowing from your rocks!!!

Ralph said...

The basic groundcover is manzanita. I am sure that the dreaded plant cops don't approve of sedums in the ground. I do have a sedum in my hot westside strip (rupestre reflexum), otherwise all my succulents are in pots. I plan to post about my experience with the plant cops. It's nice living in a planned community but it's not an easy place for an individualist.